(Story courtesy of the Southwestern University website)
GEORGETOWN, Texas – Joe Austin, a coach with a 13-year history of successfully building college football programs from the ground up, has been named the new head football coach at Southwestern University.
Southwestern announced in October 2011 that it would reinstate football in the 2013-2014 academic year after a 62-year hiatus.
Austin was hired to launch the new program after a nationwide search. He will start at Southwestern Feb. 27
"Building this program at Southwestern is an exciting opportunity that I couldn't possibly pass up," Austin said. "Southwestern is a school with a great academic reputation that is excellent in placing their graduates in jobs and graduate schools. It is in a great location, both in terms of quality of life and quality of football, and the school is making a first-class commitment to reinstituting collegiate football."
Austin is currently the head coach at Hanover College, a liberal arts college in Hanover, Ind. In his four years at Hanover, he has taken a program that was in a rapid downward spiral and transformed it into a strong program that has finished second in its conference in the past two years. This success has carried to areas off the field as well, with the team GPA rising to exceed the school average.
Prior to going to Hanover in 2008, Austin served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, during which time the offense established 35 school/conference records and finished in the nation's top 30 in scoring, total offense, rushing and passing.
Austin began his coaching career as an assistant offensive coordinator at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., while working on his master's degree in organizational management. During his four seasons at Concordia, the Golden Bears posted a 32-12 record, set more than 70 offensive records and made appearances in the nation's top 25 for three straight seasons.
"Joe has all the qualities we were looking for in a new head coach," said Glada Munt, director of intercollegiate athletics at Southwestern. "He is a proven head coach who understands the role of athletics at Division III schools. He is ideally prepared to come to Southwestern and help us build a new football program."
Austin said he believes Division III college football is a wonderful way to use athletics to promote lifelong success for student-athletes. "In a Division III atmosphere, we have the ability to focus on life skills that will allow students to leave Southwestern prepared to be successful in their life and vocations."
In recruiting players for the new Southwestern team, Austin said he will be looking for students who want the overall experience a liberal arts college provides. Three years ago, he took his team on a study abroad trip to Germany.
"Prospective football players will be drawn to the quality of our academics and the quality of our football program," Austin said. "Southwestern will become known as a school that can offer football student-athletes everything they want: quality academics and quality football."
The new Southwestern football team is scheduled to play its first game against Texas Lutheran University on Sept. 7, 2013. Southwestern will play its home games at Bernard Birkelbach Field. The university is building new practice fields and an athletic fieldhouse on land it owns on the east side of its campus.
Southwestern also will be adding varsity women's lacrosse for the 2013-2014 academic year. A search for the university's first varsity women's lacrosse coach is expected to start in March.
The addition of intercollegiate football and women's lacrosse will bring Southwestern's complement of athletic teams to 20, on par with the university's peers in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).
Southwestern previously played intercollegiate football from 1908 to 1951 and was a charter member of the Southwest Conference. The Southwestern football team gained national attention during World War II when Southwestern was home to a Navy V-12 program. With the help of players from schools such as UT, Baylor, SMU and TCU, Southwestern went 9-1 during the 1943-44 season and defeated the University of New Mexico in the Sun Bowl in January 1944. The Pirates won the Sun Bowl for a second consecutive year the following season.